Dallas Colleges: Oregon State Beavers
It was billed as a potentially high-scoring, exciting Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl. Baylor got the memo. UCLA didn't. The Bears dominated, making an early statement for the Big 12 in the battle with the Pac-12 for the title of "second best conference."
UCLA was gifted a TD at the end they didn't actually score. The final score should have been 49-19.
It was over when: It was 35-10 at halftime, so there wasn't much tension at any point. Baylor dominated in every way from gun-to-gun, on both sides of the ball. That the Bears' offense was explosive wasn't a surprise. That the Bears' defense crushed UCLA, well, that was.
Turning point: UCLA wanted to blitz and pressure Baylor's offense. It seemed like a good idea. But in the second quarter, on third-and-9 from the Baylor 45, the Bruins blitzed Bears QB Nick Florence, and he connected on a 55-yard TD pass to Tevin Reese. It was a beautiful pass and catch. It made the score 21-zip, and it firmly established the direction of this game.
Baylor game ball goes to: Coordinator Phil Bennett and the Baylor defense. There was this guy who kept calling Baylor's defense "horrible" and "terrible" and "awful." He doesn't feel very smart at this moment. Of course, that was the take on Baylor's defense just about all season from everyone. Still, just as Baylor transformed after a 3-4 start, the defense posted its best game in its final outing of 2012.
UCLA game ball goes to: Let's hear it for the special teams! Bruins kicker Ka'imi Fairbairn was 2-for-2 on field goals, and punter Jeff Locke was his usual outstanding self. Shaquelle Evans had a 43-yard punt return, and Steven Manfro had a 51-yard kick return.
Unsung hero: Baylor running back Lache Seastrunk, who announced his Heisman Trophy candidacy before the game, had a nice performance with 16 carries for 138 yards. But backup running back Glasco Martin had 98 yards and three TDs.
Stat of the game: UCLA was 1-of-17 on third down. That's just horrible. The Bruins were also 3-of-8 on fourth down. Credit to Baylor. Discredit to UCLA.
Stat of the game II: Baylor outrushed UCLA 306 yards to 33. One word: dominant.
What it means: This was the first of three bowl games putting Big 12 and Pac-12 teams. Those conferences are competing for the mythical title of Second Best Conference. This was a decisive win for the Big 12, as a team that went 7-5 overall and 4-5 in Big 12 play whipped a Pac-12 team that went 9-4 overall and 6-3 in conference play. While it's probably silly to read too much into one bowl game, which can be fluid and surprising, the pressure certainly is now on Oregon State in the Valero Alamo Bowl against Texas and Oregon in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl against Kansas State.
Ted Miller: It's not just that the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl matches top-five teams. And it's not just Oregon's and Kansas State's star power, with Wildcats QB Collin Klein, a Heisman Trophy finalist, and All American LB Arthur Brown on one side, and Ducks All-American RB Kenjon Barner and QB Marcus Mariota, a future Heisman finalist, on the other. Nor is it just the two coaches, old school Bill Snyder and new old school Chip Kelly, who many feel is headed to the NFL after this game.
Nor is it only that Pac-12 vs. Big 12 bragging rights hang heavily in the balance.
It's that you've got to love a game that has karmic significance.
Oregon and Kansas State were supposed to play this year. They had a home-and-home game contract. But then Oregon had a chance to play LSU to open the 2011 season and, well, then folks go all interpretive. Oregon fans see Kansas State as the Fraidy Cats, who took an opportunity to run away from a series instead of re-working it. Kansas State folks see logistical complications that forced their hand and, heck, it was the Ducks that first asked for an adjustment anyway.
Oregon is more than a touchdown favorite. You look at the two rosters, and it's not difficult to see a Ducks victory. And yet … who does karma favor?
Will the trash talk -- who me? -- between the fan bases come back to haunt Oregon? Will the Wildcats be vindicated? Let's just say the winner will provide more than the usual raspberries toward the other after the game.
And that is great fun.
David Ubben: I don’t know how you boys do it on the West Coast, but here in Big 12 country, we love offense. I didn’t put West Virginia 70, Baylor 63 on my best games of the year on accident. The last time Baylor got together with a Pac-12 team, I seem to remember all kinds of awesome stuff happening.
When Baylor and UCLA tangle in the Holiday Bowl, we can expect some similar fireworks, and some of them will even come courtesy of a player Pac-12 folks are surely familiar with: Lache Seastrunk. Baylor committed to him as its featured back down the stretch and he looked the part of the Big 12’s best back over the last month of the season, rushing for 693 yards and five touchdowns in his last five games. Everybody knows about Nick Florence (the nation’s leader in total offense) and Terrance Williams (the nation’s leading receiver), but this game may very well be about Seastrunk breaking out on a national scale. I’d like to see that. With apologies to offensive lineman Cyril Richardson, Seastrunk’s probably going to beat out receiver Tevin Reese as the best returning piece of this powerful offense.
Baylor doesn’t have a Heisman winner like RG3 who joined Terrance Ganaway in running away with that memorable Alamo Bowl win over Washington, but Seastrunk says he’s going to win it in 2013. I’m not going to be the one who says he can’t. UCLA’s Johnathan Franklin and Brett Hundley will be pretty fantastic foes for the Bears, but I can’t wait to see this showcase of offense.
Kevin Gemmell: Yes, David, we love our offense too. In fact, so much so that one of the most prominent offenses in football is named after the West Coast (which several Pac-12 teams run). But we can also play defense. And that is going to be the difference when Oregon State and Texas square off in the Valero Alamo Bowl.
The "Who's Going to Play Quarterback Bowl" finally has its starters -- Cody Vaz for the Beavers and David Ash for the Longhorns. But despite the fact that Oregon State has one of the most explosive wide receiver duos in the country in Markus Wheaton and Brandin Cooks -- I believe it's going to be the defense that carries the day for the Beavers. We know that Ash has had his troubles. And a struggling quarterback against an Oregon State secondary that ranks sixth nationally in interceptions doesn't bode well. Cornerback Jordan Poyer leads the way with seven picks this year -- that's second nationally.
Only two teams allowed more tackles for a loss this year than Texas and Oregon State is allowing opponents to convert third downs at just 29 percent. Say bonjour to Scott Crichton and Michael Doctor.
Yes, these two other games will be very offensive-centric. And that's going to make for a heck of a lot of holiday fun. This game will likely lack the offensive sizzle of the other two. There are no Heisman Trophy finalists (or players declaring they are going to win the Heisman next year). And that's OK, because there are those of us on the West Coast who still enjoy and appreciate a little bit of defense. And Oregon State's is nasty.
This week we'll be taking a snapshot look at all of the bowl games:
No. 23 Texas (8-4, 5-4 Big 12) vs. No. 13 Oregon State (9-3, 6-3)
Where: San Antonio, Texas, Alamodome
When: Sat. Dec. 29, 6:45 p.m. ET/3:45 PT
About Oregon State: What a wild year it's been for the Beavers, who have flipped last season's mark of 3-9 to 9-3. From the strange start of postponing the season opener to the quarterback switches, Oregon State has dealt with some bizarre distractions -- but it has also endured through it all. Quarterbacks Sean Mannion and Cody Vaz continue to be locked in a quarterback competition. But whoever gets the start will have one of the nation's best wide receiver duos to work with. And for as explosive as OSU's passing game has been with Markus Wheaton and Brandin Cooks (both 1,000-yard receivers), the defense has been just as potent, allowing fewer than 20 points per game. OSU went 2-2 vs. ranked competition this season, topping Wisconsin and UCLA in consecutive weeks, then falling to Stanford and Oregon late in the year.
About Texas: Like the Beavers, the Longhorns have quarterback issues. While we wait for Beavers coach Mike Riley's decision, we too must wait for Texas' Mack Brown to decide between Case McCoy and David Ash. Texas lost its final two games, against TCU and No. 6 Kansas State. Ash, who started the first 11 games, was benched against the Horned Frogs, and McCoy started the season finale against Kansas State. Twice the Longhorns couldn't hold a lead against No. 8 West Virginia (48-45), and they were routed by No. 13 Oklahoma (65-21) and dismissed by Kansas State (42-24). Their only victory against a ranked team was a 31-22 win at Texas Tech.
Key players, Oregon State: It starts with Wheaton and Cooks -- who have combined for 152 catches, 2,327 yards and 16 touchdowns. This pair represents the best mismatch for the Beavers, so whichever quarterback wins the gig, look for them to get this duo involved early and often. Defensively, All-American cornerback Jordan Poyer leads a defense that has 19 interceptions this season, which ranks sixth in the country. He has seven of those interceptions and returned one for a touchdown.
Key players, Texas: The Longhorns can score. They average just north of 36 points per game, and the two-back system of Johnathan Gray and Joe Bergeron has been pretty successful. Gray, a freshman, is the smaller, speedier back (though he has pretty good size at 5-11, 207). Bergeron (6-1, 230) is a sophomore and has 16 rushing touchdowns. He's the thunder to Gray's lightening. All-conference defensive end Alex Okafor can be disruptive. He's got a team best eight sacks, and 12 tackles for a loss this season.
Did you know: This is the third meeting between the schools and Texas has won both, the last coming in 1987 ... Texas' last and only appearance in the Alamo Bowl was in 2006 when it defeated Iowa 26-24 ... This is Texas' 14th bowl appearance in 15 seasons under Brown ... this is Oregon State's first appearance in the Alamo Bowl and first postseason appearance since 2009 ... The Beavers are 5-1 in bowl games under Mike Riley ... Oregon State has been ranked for a school record 11 consecutive weeks in the AP poll.
Dec. 29, 6:45 p.m. ET, San Antonio (ESPN)
Texas take from LonghornNation's Carter Strickland: The Longhorns stumbled down the stretch, losing their last two games to finish the regular season third in the Big 12.
While most projections called for Texas to finish right around third in the conference -- second was a possibility but thought to be a distant one -- the 8-4 overall record is looked at as a disappointment because of who the Longhorns lost to and how they lost.
Oklahoma and Kansas State, the top two teams in the Big 12, beat Texas by a combined 60 points, but the fact that the Longhorns most likely were going to lose to both of those teams had been accepted prior to the start of the season.
The other two losses -- to TCU and West Virginia -- were seen more as swing games. Texas lost those two by a combined 10 points. That both losses were at home didn't exactly thrill the fan base.
Now Texas is at a loss as to which quarterback, David Ash or Case McCoy, should lead the team. Ash started the first 11 games but was pulled twice due to inconsistent play and turnovers. McCoy started the final game against Kansas State and threw for 314 yards with 17 straight completions at one point. But McCoy had two costly interceptions as well.
On defense, Texas was one of the most porous in both the conference and the nation. But a month of bowl practice may help heal defensive end Alex Okafor and build confidence in replacement linebackers Tevin Jackson and Peter Jinkens.
Texas needs one more win to finish one game better than last season's record of 8-5. If the Longhorns can do that it might lend slightly more credibility to Texas coach Mack Brown's continued stump speeches about the Longhorns having improved from last year.
Oregon State take by Pac-12 blogger Kevin Gemmell: Oregon State head coach Mike Riley has a decision to make. OSU's regular-season finale against Nicholls State was as much an open quarterback tryout between Sean Mannion and Cody Vaz as it was a quest for a ninth win. Both have had highs and lows throughout the season, so it will be interesting to see which way Riley goes in the postseason as the Beavers look for their first Bowl win since a 3-0 victory against Pittsburgh in the 2008 Sun Bowl.
Both quarterbacks looked outstanding against Nicholls State -- granted, it was against a one-win FCS team. Yet both made their cases with efficient performances.
But the true stars of Oregon's State's team this year have been seniors Markus Wheaton (receiver) and Jordan Poyer (cornerback). They were catalysts for one of the best turnarounds in college football in 2012. Last season, the Beavers were 3-9 and many questioned whether Riley's job was secure.
Wheaton is one of the most dangerous, yet underappreciated receivers in the country. He's not only made his quarterback better with his sure hands and blistering speed, but his presence also helped give rise to up-and-coming receiver Brandin Cooks. The duo went for more than 1,000 receiving yards each, so they'll test the Texas secondary.
Across the field, Poyer, an All-American, comes in with a Pac-12 best seven interceptions. He's supported by an outstanding defense that was second only to Stanford in points allowed per game. Scott Crichton (nine sacks, 15 tackles for a loss) headlines a front seven that was one of the tougher groups in the conference this season.
You know: The conference that can count!
But the Pac-12, which has, yes, 12 teams, and the Big 12, which has 10 teams (though it's often hard to keep up with which ones), play each other in three bowl games this holiday season.
Joy to the world.
So it seemed like a good time for the Pac-12 and Big 12 bloggers -- Ted Miller and David Ubben -- to say howdy and discuss all the coming fun.
Ted Miller: Ah, David, the bowl season. Pure bliss. Unless you’re the Pac-12, which is expected to get a whipping from your conference over the holidays. We have three Pac-12-Big 12 bowl games with the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl between Stanford and Oklahoma State, the Valero Alamo with Baylor and Washington, and the Bridgepoint Education Holiday matching California and Texas. And the Big 12 is favored in all three!
Poor ole West Coast teams. What are we to do? It’s almost like the Big 12 is the SEC or something. Speaking of which, how are things with your Cowboys? Are they over not getting a shot at LSU for the national title? Are they excited about getting a shot at Andrew Luck and Stanford? We might as well start with that outstanding matchup in Glendale.
David Ubben: You know, I was actually a little surprised. I stuck around Stillwater for the BCS bowl selection show announcement, and the players took the news pretty well. They found out an hour before, but there wasn't a ton of down-in-the-dumpiness from the Pokes. When you've never been to this point before, it's a bit difficult to develop a sense of entitlement. If Oklahoma had OSU's record and was passed over by Alabama and sent to the Fiesta Bowl for the 17th time in the past six years, you might have had a different reaction.
But Oklahoma State's first trip to the BCS and first Big 12 title aren't being overlooked. These players are looking forward to this game. There's no doubt about that.
I know the Big 12 seems like the SEC, but I have a confession, Ted. I wasn't supposed to tell anybody, but I can't hold it in anymore. When the Big 12 began back in 1996 ... wow, I'm really going to do this ... then-SEC commissioner Roy Kramer graciously allowed the league to keep two of his teams. The league made a similar arrangement with the Big Eight a century ago, and the Southwest Conference around the same time. Missouri and Texas A&M are really wolves in sheep's clothing: SEC teams just pretending to be in other leagues. So, that might explain the Big 12's recent dominance.
These should all be fun games, though. I ranked two of the matchups among the top three in my bowl rankings.
As for the big one, they say you learn more by losing than by winning. Stanford got its first BCS win. How do you think that experience plays into this year's game? I hate to ruin the surprise, but Oklahoma State's a bit better than the Virginia Tech team Stanford beat last season. OSU's loss to Iowa State this season is bad, but it's nothing like the Hokies' loss to James Madison last season.
But that's 2010. The difference this year is the season-ending knee injury to middle linebacker Shayne Skov, who was an All-American candidate, a slight step back on the offensive line and a lack of top-flight receivers. But if Oklahoma State fans are looking for something to worry about it is this: Stanford's running game.
The Pokes are bad against the run, and they haven't faced a team that is as physical and creative in the running game as Stanford. As much as folks talk about Luck's passing, it's his run checks that often ruin a defense's evening.
The Fiesta Bowl matchup looks like a great one, perhaps the best of the bowl season. But I’m excited to see Mr. Excitement Robert Griffin III in the Alamo Bowl against Washington. Of course, I’m not sure that the Huskies, their fans and embattled Huskies defensive coordinator Nick Holt are as thrilled. First, tell us about what Washington should be most worried about with Griffin. Then tell us about Baylor in general. Such as: Can the Bears stop anyone?
David Ubben: Nope. Not really.
Oklahoma State's defense unfairly gets a bad rap. Baylor's bad rap is earned. This is the same team that won five consecutive games late in the season -- but became the first team ever to win four consecutive in a single season while giving up 30 points in each.
The man is a nightmare. Top to bottom, he's the most accurate passer in a quarterback-driven league. Then, you add in his athleticism, which he doesn't even really need to be extremely productive. It sets him apart, though, and forces defenses to account for it, and it buys him time in the pocket. How many guys break a 20-plus yard run before hitting a receiver for a game-winning 39-yard score to beat a team like Oklahoma for the first time?
How do you think Washington will try to slow him down? What has to happen for them to have some success?
Ted Miller: This game matches the 99th (Washington) and 109th (Baylor) scoring defenses. It has a 78-point over-under, the biggest of any bowl game. The offenses are going to score plenty, at least that's the conventional wisdom.
How does Washington stop RGIII? His name is Chris Polk. He's a running back. Baylor gives up 199 yards rushing per game. Polk right, left and up the middle is a good way to contain Griffin. The Huskies' best hope is to reduce Griffin's touches with ball control. It also needs to convert touchdowns, not field goals, in the redzone. The Huskies are pretty good at that, scoring 36 TDs in 45 visits to the red zone.
The Huskies also have a pretty good quarterback in Keith Price, who set a school record with 29 touchdown passes this year. He and a solid crew of receivers have prevented teams from ganging up against Polk. But Polk is the guy who burns the clock.
Should be a fun game. As should, by the way, the Holiday Bowl. David, Cal fans are still mad at Texas coach Mack Brown and his politicking the Longhorns into the Rose Bowl in 2004. Every team wants to win its bowl game, but the Old Blues really want to beat Brown.
Of course, neither team is what it was in 2004. Cal has an excuse. It's not a college football superpower. Sure you've been asked this before, but give me the CliffsNotes version of why the Longhorns have fallen so hard since playing for the national title in 2009.
David Ubben: Cal fans are still mad? Really? I'd suggest they get over themselves. What's anybody on that Cal team ever done anyway? It's not like the best player in the NFL missed out on a chance to play in the Rose Bowl. Now, if that were the case, we might have a problem. But honestly, I don't think Tim Tebow cares all that much about the Rose Bowl.
As for Texas' struggles?
The easy answer is quarterback play. Texas relied on Colt McCoy and Jordan Shipley more than anyone realized. When they were gone, Texas couldn't run the ball, and quarterback Garrett Gilbert never made it happen. Two seasons later, the Longhorns still don't have a quarterback.
The other big answer last season was turnover margin. Gilbert threw 17 interceptions and the Longhorns were minus-12 in turnovers, which ranked 115th nationally.
They were still only 90th this year, and without solid quarterback play in a Big 12 dominated by passers, they scored five, 13 and 17 points in three of their five losses. Texas keeps people from moving the ball and runs the ball better this year, but without a solid passing game and a defense that changes games, it's tough to rack up wins in the Big 12.
It's been awhile since Cal was in the mix for the BCS, even as USC has fallen. Oregon answered the call and rose, but what has prevented Cal from winning the Pac-10 and Super Pac-10 since the Trojans' swoon?
Ted Miller: You mention quarterback play. Cal fans ... any thoughts? You mention Aaron Rodgers. Cal fans? Oh, well, that's not very nice during this festive time of the year.
Cal has become a solid defensive team, but it's lost its offensive mojo, and that can be traced to a drop in quarterback play since Rodgers departed. The latest Bears quarterback, Zach Maynard, started fairly well, stumbled, but then seemed to catch on late in the season. It's reasonable to believe the team that gets better quarterback play -- mistake-free quarterback play -- is going to win this game.
Nice to cover a conference where quarterback play matters, eh David?
Speaking of quarterback play and winning, let's wind it up. Our specific predictions aren't coming on these games until after Christmas. But we can handicap the Big 12-Pac-12 side of things. We have a three-game series this bowl seasons.
I say the Pac-12, underdogs in all three games, goes 1-2. What say you?
David Ubben: And to think, before the season, all I heard was the Pac-12 had surpassed the Big 12 in quarterback play. Did somebody petition the NCAA for another year of eligibility for Jake Locker and/or clone Matt Barkley? You West Coast folk are geniuses; I figured you'd find a way. We can't all be Stanford alums ...
Clearing out all the tumbleweeds here in middle America, I'll go out on a limb for the Big 12 in this one. Every matchup is a good one, and I don't think Cal has seen a defense like Texas' and Washington hasn't seen an offense like Baylor's. People forget that, yeah, RG3 is outstanding, but the Bears also have the league's leading receiver and leading rusher.
Stanford-OSU is a toss-up, but I'll go with a perfect sweep for the Big 12. The Cowboys haven't played poorly on the big stage yet, so I'll give them the benefit of the doubt in this one, and they clean up for the Big 12 against what was almost its new conference this fall.
Oh, what could have been. Ubben and Miller on the same blog? Divided ultimately by a little thing we call the Rockies.
But, neither of those outfits compare with the downhill rushing attack of the No. 5 Wisconsin Badgers-- tied with TCU as the fourth-highest scoring offense in the land (43.3) -- will bring to the 97th Rose Bowl on New Year's Day. This will be Patterson's greatest challenge of his career.
The Wisconsin offensive line far outweighs TCU's excellent defensive line, and a trio of running backs -- James White, John Clay and Montee Ball -- have at least 800 yards each, combining for nearly 3,000 yards and 44 touchdowns.
"You know what they’re going to do and they do a great job of running the football; they do a great of play-action," Patterson said. "They’re not one of those teams that are going to try to fool you. They come after you and say, 'Are you better than us?' And, for us we’ve got to go out and get ready to play and we’re going to have to tackle and tackle some more and tackle some more, and get ready to go."
The TCU defense, statistically No. 1 in total defense for a record third consecutive season, has been particularly stingy against the run this season, ranking third in the nation, surrendering less than 90 yards a game. The Frogs haven't allowed a team to rush for 100 yards since Oct. 23 and only the option attack of Air Force (184 rushing yards) and SMU (190) have topped 100 yards on the ground all season.
However, No offense the Frogs have faced, not Oregon State with Jacquizz Rodgers, not Air Force and not San Diego State with Mountain West Conference leading rusher Ronnie Hillman can compare to what Patterson's defense will see from the big, bad Badgers, the nation's 12th-ranked rushing offense.
"I don't know if we've played anybody specifically just like Wisconsin where they just keep coming at you with the power running game and then they try to stretch you on the edge," Patterson said. "It will be a great challenge for us because you find out as a football team what is the highest level you can play at, and that's why you play in the Rose Bowl. "
There is interesting film for Patterson to study, which he said he started breaking down last week. In its three games against Top 25 opponents, all within Big Ten play -- wins over Ohio State (31-18) and Iowa (31-30), and a loss to Michigan State (34-24) -- Wisconsin has rushed for an average of 163.7 yards, well below its season average of 247.3 yards.
"Obviously they come downhill and they come at you all day long," Patterson said. "As a football team, the best way to keep them off is for us to do well on offense. That’s one of the ways that you stop them. We have to tackle well. It’s one of the reasons why two weeks ago once we got done with the season, we got back in the weight room. We got back to running, getting ourselves back into beginning-of-the-season shape and getting our shoulders and our legs stronger.
"Good tackling teams tackle because you’re healthy and we’re going to need to be a healthy football team going into that ballgame."
"They have a lot to prove," Patterson said of the upstart Aztecs, "and we have a lot to hang on to."
That starts with remaining unbeaten, moving to 11-0 and one step closer to securing a second consecutive berth in the BCS, which would be a Rose Bowl appearance. Of course, the third-ranked Frogs still believe they're in play for the national championship game if either No. 1 Oregon or controversy-riddled No. 2 Auburn slip.
Here's what else this team has going for it entering Saturday's 3 p.m. kickoff:
*To commemorate the final game at the 80-year-old stadium before it undergoes a $105 million renovation, several hundred letterman who played at the old yard over the decades are expected to be on the field.
"It's probably going to be crazy, probably going to be folks crying -- not necessarily the team -- fans and family," senior nose tackle Cory Grant said. "For the guys that were here way before us and played in that stadium when it was first built and for people to come back it is going to be emotional for them...To come here and not really knowing much about TCU and to be part of a program that has gone above and beyond what people expected that makes it all the more emotional and something to remember. And so, palying in that stadium will be something special for one last time."
*The nation's No. 1-ranked defense can become the first in college football history to lead the nation in three consecutive seasons. Allowing just 8.5 points a game, the Frogs are on pace to for the NCAA's lowest-scoring defense since Auburn in 1988.
*The senior class (26 players) is 41-8 and needs two wins to become the school's all-time winningest class, a mark Patterson continually brings up.
*The Frogs expect to play in front of the fourth home crowd in excess of 40,000, an unfathomable mark not long ago. Including the crowd of 46,138 at Cowboys Stadium for the season-opener against Oregon State, three crowds have eclipsed the 46,000 mark. TCU is averaging more than 41,000 through five home dates at Amon Carter.
"Going from 17,000 people in the stands to where we have a chance to maybe average around 42,000 people this year for our six home games," Patterson said, "all of it coming together is what really has been cool for me because I've been part of the process the whole way."
Patterson, who prepared his team to play at Utah's noisy venue last week, has a message for Saturday's big home crowd in the rickety old stadium's final stand.
"What I want to do is I want somebody else this Saturday to have to worry about going silent count. That's how I want the crowd to be," Patterson said. "I want it to be so loud that they have to go silent count for the whole four quarters at Amon Carter Stadium, the last game that we'll ever play [there as currently constructed]. That would be a goal of mine, how the crowd can be involved, [that] they [San Diego State] have to take a timeout because they can't hear their signals."
No. 3 Boise State (2-0) faces its toughest test on the schedule as No. 24 Oregon State (1-1), 30-21 losers to TCU in the season opener, visits the Broncos' blue turf Saturday night on ABC.
So, Gary Patterson, who are you pulling for?
After a long pause, Patterson said, "Oh, I think I'll just wait and see who wins."
It's a tough question. If TCU wins and Boise loses, obviously the Frogs will leap the Broncos in the polls, moving up to No. 3 (or possibly higher if, say, No. 10 Arkansas can topple No. 1 Alabama).
But, Patterson always reminds that Boise's performance this season in the WAC will carry over into the calculation the BCS uses to determine if the Mountain West Conference will ultimately qualify in two years for automatic-qualifier status. So, a big Boise win could be useful in the long run.
Of course, there's always the possibility as well that No. 5 Oregon, No. 6 Nebraska, No. 7 Texas and/or No. 8 Oklahoma eventually jump both TCU and Boise because of strength of schedule as long as those teams remain unbeaten.
So who do you take: Boise State or Oregon State?
These days, the Horned Frogs simply re-load.
After three games, TCU is ranked No. 4 in the nation in total defense, allowing 222.7 yards a game. They've yet to give up 200 yards passing in a game or 100 yards rushing.
"Their defense is the best defense I've looked at in 10 years I've been in college football," said SMU coach June Jones, whose Mustangs take on the fourth-ranked Frogs Friday night at Gerald J. Ford Stadium. "They know what they’re doing. They’re well-coached, they know their schemes, they know how to play football. They play fast and do they do what they do, like all great teams do, and make you adjust."
Jones called this season's unit better than last year's that led the nation in total defense (239.7 ypg).
They limited pro-style Oregon State quarterback Ryan Katz to 159 yards passing and dangerous tailback Jacquizz Rodgers to 75 yards on 18 carries. Elusive Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III was held to 164 yards passing and 21 yards rushing on 14 carries.
About the only thing the Frogs defense hasn't done much of yet is make picks. They have just one, from junior cornerback Jason Teague, on 70 pass attempts.
They'll get plenty of opportunities to make plays Friday night against Jones' spread offense led by impressive sophomore quarterback Kyle Padron. The Mustangs are averaging 35.3 pass attempts and a less-than-expected 224.0 yards a game through the air. Padron has thrown three interceptions. Surprisingly, they've been quite effective running the ball, averaging 165.3 yards a game. Sophomore Zach Line is averaging 7.7 yards a carry and 92.0 yards a game.
Jones knows his still-evolving offense has its hands full against the fast and physically imposing Frogs defense.
"That's a statement they make every game they go play. They play very physical and they play hard," Jones said. "That’s what they’re going to try to do against us or they’re going to try to do it against Ohio State."
We've seen TCU dump then-No. 24 Oregon State; Boise State beat then-No. 10 Virginia Tech, BYU bounce Washington and Utah take down Pittsburgh. On Friday night, the embarrassments continued for the big AQs as the WAC's Nevada Wolf Pack whipped the Pac-10's Cal Bears and Southern Miss routed Kansas, a Big 12 team that's already lost to a FCS foe.
The oddsmakers don't believe Baylor of the Big 12 has a chance to act like one of the big boys against the Mountain West's non-AQ Frogs. The Bears are more than three-touchdown underdogs.
What could play a major factor in the 3:30 p.m. kickoff at sold-out Amon G. Carter Stadium is the insufferable heat descending on the city. The temperature is forecast to soar to 96 degrees and well over 100 degrees on the field when taking in the heat index.
Both teams are equally adjusted to broiler-like conditions, but whichever team is in the best physical condition as the game wears on will likely have the advantage if the game is close in crunch time.
The No. 4 TCU Horned Frogs and respect-seeking Baylor Bears will play in front of about 50,000 fans Saturday at sold-out Amon G. Carter Stadium.
TCU announced Tuesday evening that a limited number of standing-room only tickets, at $15 each, are available on-line at www.GoFrogs.com and at the TCU ticket office in the Daniel-Meyer Coliseum.
It's the second home sellout in the last three games at the 80-year-old stadium, going back to last season's November showdown against Utah that drew 50,307, a single-game home attendance record. More than 46,000 attended TCU's season-opening win over then-No. 24 Oregon State at Cowboys Stadium, and 37,117 watched TCU dismantle Tennessee Tech in last week's home opener.
"It just proves where we're getting as a program," 10th-year TCU coach Gary Patterson said, "and the amount of people that are getting excited about being Frog Fans and are liking to watch good college football."
TCU has sold 19,020 season tickets (not including the student allotment) for this season, obliterating the previous school record of 14,490 in 2007.
Saturday's kickoff is at 3:30 p.m. The game will be televised on Versus.
But, the model of consistency on the unit is Bart Johnson. Entering Saturday's home opener against Tennessee Tech, the steady senior has a reception in a team-best 23 straight games.
Against Oregon State, Johnson had three catches for 26 yards, including a nifty grab he made while twisting and practically picking the low throw off the turf. He and quarterback Andy Dalton clearly have gained a keen sense for one another.
"I definitely believe that," Johnson said. "As far as me and every other receiver, we've been here for five years. We've been doing a seven-on-seven in the summers for five years. We've been running a lot of the same plays for five years. It's just really neat. I know the other night when we were on the field, it's just like a sense of confidence, a kind of calmness about the group."
Gary Patterson got the perfect motivational material last weekend when little ole Jacksonville State went into Oxford and beat Ole Miss. Jacksonville State hails from the Ohio Valley Conference, the same league that will send Tennessee Tech to Fort Worth on Saturday to face No. 4 TCU.
"We're trying to make sure we're not one of the people they're talking about in upsets," Patterson said. "I told them in the Sunday meeting that we didn't need to be the next Ole Miss."
It would make for the ultimate let-down after TCU defeated then-No. 24 Oregon State in a nationally televised game at Cowboys Stadium to put the highly anticipated season-opener behind them with an important 'W.'
"I'll be honest with you, I'm concerned about this ballgame," Patterson said. "Historically here, we have not played our best football the second game of the season, especially when it's at home. We got beat by Northwest Louisiana, which was our first home game back in my first year here. If you think that I'm taking any of these games; and if you want to know about memories, I still remember how I felt about that one. I thought I was going to be cleaning my office out that Sunday."
Last year, Texas State came to Amon G. Carter Stadium and put up 21 points in a loss, but it was the most points scored on the Frogs until Utah scored 28 in a late-season loss to TCU.
Patterson has additional motivation as well. His coaching career got started at Tennessee Tech, back in the mid-1980s with another coach named Dennis Franchione under head coach Gary Darnell.
And then there's the story of Tennessee Tech junior running back Jocques Crawford.
"He committed here. He de-committed, then went to KU [Kansas], now he's there," Patterson said. "They keep saying he's a junior. I don't know how he's a junior. He played two years of junior college at Cisco, then he played at Kansas. It's something I'll ask a question about since he left us without a running back. Most things I leave alone."
The Tennessee Tech website does list Crawford as a junior, but also says he has one year of eligibility remaining.
Whatever the case, the TCU defense, which allowed 73 total rushing yards in the opener, will be prepared for Crawford after limiting Oregon State star Jacquizz Rodgers to 75 yards on 18 carries. Crawford will try to become just the 21st running back in what will be Patterson's 115th game as head coach to gain 100 yards on the Frogs.
In terms of the national title picture, Boise and TCU are right there. And for the Frogs, they were just a couple of minutes away from likely taking Boise's third spot as it appeared Virginia Tech was going to complete the comeback and beat the Broncos on Monday night.
"We were all watching it," TCU linebacker Tank Carder said. "I was kind of feeling that they [Boise] were going to come back and do it."
A Boise loss would have eliminated the Broncos from any national title possibilities, and perhaps from the BCS picture, while elevating TCU as the lead horse in the race of the non-automatic qualifiers to get back to the BCS and possibly more.
"I had to root for Boise," Patterson said. "They're going to come in the [Mountain West] conference. You had to root for Boise, [even though] they could hurt us. I always believe that things happen for a reason. Things are going to happen for a reason."
Boise finished the job behind quarterback Kellen Moore in the final minutes with a touchdown drive. The Broncos' next big test is in three weeks against now-unranked Oregon State, which dropped its No. 24-ranking after a 30-21 loss to the Frogs Saturday night at Cowboys Stadium. The Broncos have this week off and play at Wyoming in two weeks.
The Frogs get Tennessee Tech for their home-opener on Saturday and will face Baylor at home in two weeks.
"You can't worry about it. All you can do is take care of yourself and play each week and let the chips fall as they may," TCU reciever Bart Johnson said of the rankings. "I wouldn't have been really disappointed if they had lost."
That they didn't only makes the coming weeks that much more intriguing.
With TCU leading 21-14 coming out of halftime, the Frogs were dominating the line of scrimmage and gaining chunks of yardage on the ground. Eleven plays into the drive, TCU rushed seven times to the Oregon State 14-yard line where it set up for a third-and-1. Running backs Ed Wesley and Matthew Tucker were both finding big holes, but Frogs co-offensive coordinators Jarrett Anderson and Justin Fuente sent down a play that called for quarterback Andy Dalton to roll right and lead tight end Evan Frosch.
Only Oregon State linebacker Dwight Roberson sniffed it out and and made a pretty interception to end a drive that threatened to give TCU a 14-point lead and all the momentum. The Beavers capitalized on the turnover with a touchdown to tie the game at 21-21.
Patterson said he wasn't surprised by the play call because he was listening on the head set. But, he didn't jump in to question the pass play in the short-yardage situation when the ground game was punishing the Beavers.
"Myself, I would not have chose it," Patterson said of the call. "But, I mean that's not my job. They probably wonder sometimes when I call the defenses that I call. Going into Friday, I know what's going to go on. They did a great job a year ago and I thought they did a great job [Saturday]."
Allowing assistants to coach without being second-guessed is critical to success. So, too, is accountability. Dalton said he wasn't surprised by the play call either because they practice it all the time. The senior quarterback, who passed Sammy Baugh to become TCU's all-time wins leader with 30, said not executing the first down came down to a poor decision on his part.
"I shouldn't have thrown it," Dalton said. "I should have run it for a first down."
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